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back to article MS axes Xbox 360 HD DVD drive

Microsoft is dropping its HD DVD add-on drive from its list of Xbox 360 add-ons, the software giant revealed this past weekend. The blame was placed firmly on "recent decisions made by Toshiba, Hollywood studios, and retailers", but whoever's responsible, MS will "no longer manufacture new HD DVD players for the Xbox 360". The …

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It’s all about priorities

Sony promoted blu-ray in the PS3 at the expense of the gamers (a delayed and more expensive machine) cause of a bigger picture i.e. it’s movie business. Microsoft isn’t as hurt by the loss of HD-DVD as Sony would have been by blu-ray.

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BluRay on Xbox 360

If they can produce an add on BR drive for a reasonable price then it would make business sense to do so. If BR becomes very popular then they will wish to try and stop people from getting a PS3 instead to watch movies on and sticking to the 360. If it's cheap, around the £100 mark it makes more sense to do this than get another console, or, a dedicated standalone player.

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Anonymous Coward

Good news

HD-DVD has been somewhat of a shackle for MS and the 360 for a while now, they haven't been able to drop it because of their strong tie in with it but it's been obvious it's not helping console sales for a while. Now they're free of that shackle they can go Bluray and destroy arguably the only benefit the PS3 has over the 360.

Sony could potentially try and derail any attempts by MS to go Bluray but it seems unlikely as similarly MS could harm Bluray's future on the Windows platform which would harm Sony far more than MS.

I think whilst it wasn't Microsoft's preferred option originally, they're probably glad the high def. war is over in one way or another, because the image of the 360 being HD-DVD whilst HD-DVD has died away can only have harmed it even though HD-DVD was actually an addon.

If a Bluray addon is released it likely wont be much more than the HD-DVD addon either and more importantly a Bluray addon would be an extremely cheap way for ex-HD-DVD 360 owners to go Bluray compared to Bluray players that have the added cost of decent hardware needed to play the discs, something 360 owners have already covered.

Either way, it can only be a good thing for MS and the 360.

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Gates Horns

Will UK Xbox sales slump????

If this article os correct and MS are opting for HD movie download service, Xbox for total HD solution, I think not. They need an external Blu-ray drive or at least pay sony huge sums of cash to license using it inside any new 360 h/w release.

UK broadband is too slow to download films on-demand. it just about copes with online gaming at peak times. Again RIP off britian will lose out, thanks to BT and its archaic under funded "network".

p.s I pay for 16 get 6.5 and thats a good rate.

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Gates Horns

The whole point

This was the whole point of offering the HD-DVD as an add-on rather than waiting and including it in the Xbox 360 at launch. The MS support of HD-DVD was as much about causing disruption to the march of Blu-Ray as it was support for HD-DVD. Whilst there was doubt in the marketplace neither format would gain widespread customer take up. This has allowed MS to get into a position to be able to deliver HD movies via Xbox Live. Something that it can make money on.

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ssu

It did not help that it was released 'broken'

It was a good little player but the audio was all cocked up at launch and it took around 6 months for it to be fixed. It certainly put me off buying HD DVDs until it was fixed.

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Xbox 360 = BAD MEDIA PLAYER

I don't know how anyone can even consider something as noisy as the Xbox 360 for use as a video player! I'd personally rather get a PS3 40GB if Blu-ray software sales really took off with the added benefit of gaining access to some exclusive game titles and a far slicker remote control. The Xbox 360's hoover-like fans are ok during a Halo session, but quickly get on my nerves if I'm just playing some background music off my iPod. I can't imagine I'd want to watch an entire movie with that same background noise...

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Flame

Obsolete addon for soon to be obsolete console.

Very fitting...

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Anonymous Coward

Love it

[MS said] "HD DVD is one of the several ways we offer a high definition experience to consumers and we will continue to give consumers the choice to enjoy digital distribution of high definition movies and TV shows directly to their living room, along with playback of the DVD movies they already"

Don't you just LOVE the utter bollocks that marketing men speak?

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Gates Horns

M$ limits gameplay

Now the game programmers will need to split their next generation games over a half dozen DVDs to match what they'll stuff onto one Blu-Ray disk.

Or better yet, skip the current generation of X-Box and wait for the 720 or whatever the next one is.

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Re: Xbox 360 = BAD MEDIA PLAYER

Having owned a MS HD-DVD drive (but got rid before the Tosh announcement), there was nothing wrong with my 360 playing HD-DVD's in my home cinema setup. Without ducting, the projector fan is more intrusive than the 360 by a mile. The Benq DVD drive in my 360 Elite is extremely quiet and the ability to stream live TV, record TV and play Divx movies from my vista PC under media centre is great.

As for the digital downloads, I trialled the MS HD movie downloads and was not impressed with quality or the restrictions of the DRM, let alone the speed of the download.

I've already got a PS3, so I'll only be buying hi-def movies on Blue Disc from now on.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Xbox 360 = BAD MEDIA PLAYER

So true, it's like having a fan heater sitting under the TV. The PS3 is currently much better in terms of being a media platform.

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Anonymous Coward

360 v2 quieter than PS3

Indeed the classic 360s were rather noisy, but since the v2 consoles were released the 360 is pretty silent, certainly quieter than the PS3 now. For anyone who doesn't have a 360 already it's a moot point because they'll only get hold of a v2 now.

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Paris Hilton

I think people miss the significance of MS & HD DVD

MS were heavy backers of HD DVD -- they didn't just pick the format because it 'wasn't Sony'.

All standalone HD DVD players mandated the use of Microsoft's iHD (basically Windows CE) for interactive features -- Blu Ray uses Java. The codec for HD DVD is VC-1 (essentially WMV). Okay, so this was eventually agreed as a possible codec for Blu-Ray (as a bit of a sop to MS, I think); the preferred codec is H.264 (essentially MPEG4) -- which is an open ISO standard (the ISO rejected VC-1) and used on the majority of new Blu-Ray (older Blu-Rays used MPEG2 codecs).

So this, and the reason MS built in HD DVD support for Vista, was the basis for Microsoft's attempt to own the next Hi-Def video codec. Sadly, it's not worked out for them. It seems H.264 is the way to go (maybe they need a catchier name!)

I don't think we'll be seeing a Blu-Ray add-on for the X-Box (not even sure if the X-Box comes with Java, so it probably wouldn't work with all the interactive nonsense anyway). More likely, we'll see an expansion of the Live HD downloads service as Microsoft's next attempt to gain acceptance of WMV/VC-1.

So, to summarise, HD DVD was -- in many ways -- an MS platform more than it was Toshiba's. We're more likely to see Tosh become a BDA member than MS.

Paris because a lack of a hi-def format version of 'One Night in Paris' probably prolonged the format war...

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Happy

@ Tim

"the fans you hear when you're playing a game are spinning up *because* you're playing a game. When in media player mode, they spin right down so are very quiet"

Erm.. do you have a custom job?? Whether it's playing games or playing streamed/disc movies, it's still revving it's knackers off! Although I do agree with you about streaming movies.. unless some act of broadband miracle hits us, there isn't going to be streaming HD films for quite some time... on either sides of the pond.

As for the PS3, it's the same as the XBOX but much quieter, although still quite noisy for a player, but definitely something you can get used to if the volume of the tv is set accordingly (no, not with the added neighbours complaining, it doesn't need to be THAT loud!).

Funny, i have a HD-DVD addon, and it was virtually useless to begin with. Now it's actually got a more functional use as a door-stop. Some people might moan about that, but eally.. what else can you use it for ? Might place a PICO machine in there - ah! That's an idea!

Personally, i think MS should very quickly think about releasing a BR addon. the longer they leave it, the more the press will conclude (wrongly) that the XBOX is old technology - Yes, I have heard quite a few people say such a thing!!

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doubting it's silent

The PS3 is entirely silent (well mine is). My 360 on the other hand is very loud, even without a game in :(

The HD-DVD is still a decent proposition. There are over 500 HD-DVD title out there, and you can use it for DVDs as well, so you can have a movie and a game in your 360 at all times for the uber lazy. It also adds an extra couple of USB ports to your 360 round the back if you want them (for usb drive/cam etc).

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Linux

@tim

The xbox is noisy playing films and music. But I guess you dont like classical. Not as noisy as halo 3 - but still noisy. Then again so is my original xbox. MS dont make good hardware. (or software).

The ps3 is very very quiet - during games or sitting idle. This is why it is much more reliable - they thought about airflow and all that when they built it. Rather than doing the PC in a box with some heatsinks and fans ala Xbox.

Tux, cause you can run mythtv on a ps3.

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@Tim Spence

Quieter than the 360's i think (certainly the older ones), but like the 360, they crank up when you're gaming.

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ps3 fans....

its my biggest gripe about the ps3 - the bloody fan noise!

now, maybe cos i have mine on top of my V+ box on my AV rack - both get hot. but the fan is VERY noisy! luckily i have a nice 7.1 system to drown it out!

why the hell dont sony et al just stick DECENT silent fans in ranther than these shitty noisy ones!

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Obsolete console?

Could the guy who said the 360 is an obsolete console please explain? The only console thats anywhere near it is the Wii and they are very different and quite happily sit side by side (I have both). If you mean the PS3 you are having a laugh. It'll be a long long time before PS3 sales get even close to either the 360 or Wii by which time the 360 will be obsolete indeed as the next version will be out and Sony will be stuck still trying to milk some value out of the PS3.

In terms of gaming the only thing thats obsolete is Sony, its PS3 is getting its butt kicked and so is the PSP (traded mine in for a DS).

Pretty graphics a console do not make, games do.

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Unhappy

Tim

Ok microsoft will push for the HD movie download option. When all the 360 owners start doing this, it is quite possible for your 10 minute download to be increased.

The uk broadband market cannot cope with HD downloads. The cable market possibly could, but again thanks to poor funding not everyone in the UK can get cable.To get 14 Mb you must live in your local exchange and are very lucky, a majority of Broadband owners pay for 8/16 MB services and get little over 2/4Mb

To stop all the ps3 fanboy posters, I have nothing against the xbox 360, being a previous owner (exchanged for a wii) and currently owner of a PS3, both very good next-gen consoles. Just think that the U.S, Japan and most other countries would see a benefit for DL, not the UK

All that will happen in the uk is premium HD download packages will be introduced with slight tweeking at the exchange to enable a slightly faster service, and prices pm doubling.

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Flame

@ doubting it's silent

Is your PS3 silent because it's off? It's the only way I've ever known them to be silent.

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Alert

blueray: why do people keep saying...

SONY... its just a member of the The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) which is the industry consortium that develops and licenses Blu-ray Disc technology and is responsible for establishing format standards and promoting business opportunities for Blu-ray Disc. The BDA is divided into three levels of membership: the Board of Directors, the Contributors, and the General Members.

The "Blu-ray Disc Founder" was founded in May 2002 by nine leading electronic companies: Sony, Matsushita, Pioneer, Philips, Thomson, LG Electronics, Hitachi, Sharp, and Samsung. Spearheaded by Sony Corporation, on February 19th 2002 the companies announced that they were the "Founders" of the Blu-ray Disc and later changed their name to the "Blu-ray Disc Association" on May 18, 2004 to allow more companies to join their development. Some examples of companies that signed in include Apple, TDK, Dell, Hewlett Packard, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. and Universal Music Group. As of December 2007, there are more than 250 members and supporters of the Association.

* taken from wikipedia

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Gates Horns

@Liam

PS3 is almost silent in everyone else's room. If you think the PS3 is noisy, try a 360, it's 100x noiser (no exageration...)

So either:

a) your other items are generating heat, and the PS3 is desperately trying to keep itself cool (make sure there is ample room for the hot ari to get out). The hotter the enviroment, the louder the PS3 fans will spin (there is 8 spin speeds).

b) You are a Xbox fanboy trying to claim the PS3 is noisy, when it's clearly not.

c) your unit is faulty.

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Gates Horns

@James,

> Sony promoted blu-ray in the PS3 at the expense of the gamers

> (a delayed and more expensive machine)

but on the upside for gamers they're not pushing the limits of storage space and having to provide multiple discs or limit the amount of tracks (thinking pgr4, only night or day textures but not both and burnout paradise had huge areas removed due to space limitations)

so even if blu-ray films failed a game can take advantage of blu-ray storage

and dont get me started on removing the hard disc to well and truly cripple the machine

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Fan noise

I have a one month old Xbox 360 with the new motherboard and 65nm processor, and I can confirm that it very much louder than my 60gb Playstation 3 (which has the 90nm chip and therefore should run hotter than the new 40gb model which has the 65nm chip). The PS3 is not silent but it's very close.

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Happy

Xbox 360 Noise Levels

I've got both an early Xbox 360 and the 360 Elite.

The earlier Xbox was awfully loud when playing DVDs but I can confirm that the Elite is near silent when watching DVDs from the in built drive or when watching downloaded DVDs. Also, its near silent when using the external HD DVD drive.

I'll keep the HD DVD drive anyway (saves taking my favourite game out the main drive lol) and get a Blu-ray one if they launch it.

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@liam

Your fan is spinning wildly because its f**king overheating, GET IT OFF THOSE OTHER BOXES!

Christ almighty.

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Dead Vulture

RE

'Now they're free of that shackle they can go Bluray and destroy arguably the only benefit the PS3 has over the 360.'

ROFLMAO

How about the Cell processor. It is so much more advanced than what is driving the 360 that MS will have to release the NEXT xbox version just to keep up. Developers are only just getting to grips with what it can do. There is already some exciting stuff heading to PS3, and just like how they pushed the PS2 passed what we all expected it could do wait a couple more years and it will have content you won't believe. The 360 is already pretty much at what it is capable of.

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Anonymous Coward

What annoys me most...

...is that in the future we will be refering to these movies as "Blu-Ray".

yuk.

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Sad Day

The people who have won here are not only the ps3 fanboys who were touting it only because they love Sony (you seem to have a short term memory problem - remember when Sony called you all sheep a couple of years ago because you were so predictable? Baaaaa) but the biggest winners are the Hollywood movie studios.

Shame because HD-DVD wasn't so laden with DRM, was a finished format, was single region and used better codecs from the beginning.

Vs Blu-Ray's restrictive region coding, restrictive DRM (how are you all going to feel when new discs come out that you can't play on your old BluRay players that aren't PS3 or that need online auth to play?), poor picture quality (subjective, but seeing the same film on both formats, HD-DVD actually had the edge believe it or not), still in Beta etc.. etc.. etc..

I have both players, but I preferred the HD-DVD because it was, in long term use, a better format, and I preferred it's picture - seemed much cleaner and crisper vs blu-ray, but that is in my opinion.

However, it may stop the bloody apathy within the public that this whole battle (and it's associated bullsh!t) has caused.

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Gates Horns

LOL.

Even the current 360's are considerably louder than the 40GB PS3.

I like how the AC poster above used the "V2 Console" phrase.. Tim, you gave yourself away mate... Used used the same reference last week. Nobody calls it V2... (and it's not even V2).

Speaks volumes that a single Xbox fanboy has to make multiple posts up to try and convince us that the 360 is quiet, when we all know it's BS...

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Stop

Xbox 360 Noise Levels

For all the peeps moaning about the noise of the fans of their 360's, go troll some other 'game related' website about how much better RFOM2 is going to be than Gears2 FFS...

How a story on MS axing HD-DVD turns into a mass my-console-is-better-than-yours flame-war escapes me... Grow up, get a life, a job, a girlfriend and get laid already. Then you might not be so uptight about something so pathetic!

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This post has been deleted by its author

Alien

least we forget Microsoft

But yee of little memory forget .....

Microsoft said that HD was the best and they would continue to ONLY push HD. Even after an MS exec said it could support both formats and he was chastized. :-(

Microsoft, all about world domination (don't you all just love to be dominated :-) ) pushed HD format even to putting it in VISTA, which now makes a bunch of VISTA code totally useless . OH well, whats a little extra bloat.

I totally support people using what ever OS or format they wish. But you make your decision, you have to live with the results.

en

Microsoft, Your frustration, our fault, too bad. :-)

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Alert

If it was an MS format more than Toshiba...

... where the fk was MS the last nine months?

I consider myself to be a generally well informed consumer, and as a HD-DVD player owner I'm also an early adopter (have been for 20 years too). So whilst I don't think I know it all, I hope I don't spout knee jerk bollocks...

Richard, how the hell can you claim HD-DVD was more a MS platform than Toshiba? For the last nine months the only contribution any of the other HD-DVD consortium members have made has come from Paramount in the form of two exclusive films. Toshiba have been the ones making most of the drives, making 95% of the players on the market, the ones taking a 40% share price drop since last June (up until two weeks back when it finally turned upwards), and the ones subsidising the format out of their own bank accounts

MS may have supplied some of the base code for disk functionality, but I fail to see how anyone can really give them credit as saying it is their platform rather than Toshiba's. What have MS done since last April?

Drop the price of the HD-DVD 360 drive? Offered any incentives to adopt the drive? Stood toe to toe with Toshiba in the media taking the flak? Significantly mentioned it at key note speeches at major events? No to all of those (and I was at two of those industry events listening to Bill before anyone starts).

MS got involved to do as little as possible and I just cannot believe anyone is trying to claim otherwise. I have said it before and will say it again here, I hope Toshiba get their pound of flesh from the other HD-DVD consortium members.

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@Mark W

Poor deluded fool.

HD-DVD's DRM was damn near identical to Blu-Ray's with the exception of the managed copy functionality. HD-DVD specs featured Region Coding and the players supported it, but it wasn't used on any HD-DVD released - yet. Obviously this is the realm of coulda, shoulda, woulda, but had HD-DVD succeeded, region coding would have become a significant annoyance to everyone.

There will be no new discs for Blu-Ray that come along that an original un-upgraded Blu-Ray profile 1.0 player won't play. The basic specification was set with profile 1.0. Should a 2.0 disc be put into a 1.0 profile player you'll find that the following things will work; Movie, menus, bonus content such as making of specials, behind the scenes and out takes. What won't work is the PiP feature, an BD-Live features and anything that requires an Internet connection. Since most people don't connect their DVD player to the Net, and most aren't buying a Blu-Ray for the BD-live functionality it looks like the only feature of any note that won't work is the PiP stuff. Whoa, dude, unbelievable. Those $ony bar-stewards!

Long term the higher capacity of BD and the higher bit rates both audio and video guaranteed BD would have better picture and sound than HD-DVD. Poor transfers and encoding aside the fundamental specifications of the two formats make this a certainty. Since they use largely the same encoding methods it's pointless to try to say that HD-DVD had a better picture or sound.

But hey, you go on believing whatever you want, it's a moot point in any event. Oh, one last thing, BD has been final spec since profile 1.0. Profile 1.1 and 2.0 are all about adding extras. The Blu-Ray format was completed a long time ago. The only thing in Beta is HD-DVD the new betamax.

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Happy

All those obsolete bricks....

What will retailers do with all that stock? Mark it down to 1p, or advertise it as a doorstop says I.

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And who loses?

The ripped off British public again. I was never a massive console fan - we got a Wii for the kids (honest...) but fairly ignored the whole Sony/MS dog fight. Then the HD drive came out and I managed to hook it up with my pc to the HD tv in October. Although it worked out ok, I decided to get a 360 in December just to see what all the hype was about and not have to worry about drivers, installs, back ups etc like installing games on the pc.

Now MS has pulled out of the HD drive race. Hmm. Doesn't exactly put a lot of faith in the big companies - then again when did Sony/MS/Toshiba/<insert any other big company> give a toss about the consumer? Couldn't MS do the honorable thing and do some sort of exchange for the LG dual HD drive - seeing as it was WE the public who invested in Toshiba/MS and it is WE who have to pay now?

Then again...MS and honorable....hmmmm...now there's a thought....

frank

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Anonymous Coward

What are you on about, Frank?

Microsoft have stood behind HD-DVD longer than anyone and you criticise them for pulling out?? The death of HD-DVD is thanks to the studios, not the hardware manufacturers. With Toshiba finally recognising that there's no future in HD-DVD and pulling the plug, what was Microsoft supposed to do? You were an early adopter and you backed the wrong horse. You only have yourself to blame.

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Fair enough....

Fair enough Mr Coward - I feel (imho before I am spotlighted by any other harsh criticisers...) the death of hd-dvd was a group effort of a lack of effort. And yes I understand the MS stand point of "What do we do now?" flogging a dead horse etc. I'm just seeing it as the POV of a relative newcomer to the console scene and I feel that these companies can't just drop consumers in this way (Although they will). I was just hoping that MS would have a backup plan to keep 360 people onboard or those like me who were thinking long and hard as to what console to go for by coming up with a solution for the now defunct HD drive, ie a swap for an LG drive. Perhaps I just hope for too much.

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Anonymous Coward

@frank bradshaw

But everyone knows that HD DVD vs Blu Ray was going on, and eventually one was going to drop.

Who loses? The people that don't wait it out...

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